[permaculture] Comfrey

yarrow at sfo.com yarrow at sfo.com
Thu Dec 14 22:27:23 EST 2006

I have a half dozen comfrey plants in my community garden plot, 
planted mostly next to the compost bins. I've used them to make a 
fermented tea (to add nutrients to plants): put leaves and flowering 
stems in bucket, add water, cover, let sit for a week or so. Strain 
and dilute. I make sure to harvest leaves regularly, at least 4 times 
from spring to fall, either for the tea or to add directly to the 
compost bin (it's supposed to be a compost activator). I've also 
heard about but not tried juicing the fresh leaves and using that 
instead of the (very stinky) fermented tea.

I've been meaning to make the liniment, but haven't gotten around to 
it yet. Incidentally, the same formula (soak some leaves in rubbing 
alcohol) could be used to make a hand sanitizer -- easier to use than 
soap, really useful if you're around small children or worried about 
avian flu or the common cold, and great for skin. Allantoin, one of 
the constituents of comfrey, is used in some premium hand lotions. 
Some years ago, I used dried comfrey leaves/root in a healing salve I 
made, and it's about time to make some new batches.

The plants are dying back for the winter. Most years the birds nibble 
the leaves down to stubs, but I haven't noticed any nibbles this year.

It's very easy to propagate from root cuttings (use a 3-4 inch 
segment of the thick root). I've dug up a plant, harvested a few of 
the thickest roots, mailed the roots across the country, replanted 
the comfrey, and seen it spring back easily. I also potted up the 
tiniest root pieces and got 10 more small plants, so it's no surprise 
that comfrey has a reputation for being invasive or hard to get rid 

In my summer-dry climate, I found that it wilts without regular 
water. One plant was in a container for a year or so; it survived, 
but needed lots more water and almost always looked droopy.

>--- Patrick McKown <identi1956 at yahoo.com> wrote:
>>  A punster. 'Be fruitful and mulch apply'. Excellent. Has anyone on
>>  this list worked with comfry?

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